San Clementes, California

The artist and I spent a gorgeous two nights staying in a little motel in San Clemente, Orange County, California. We lazed by the beach, slept in and ate bread (due to both of us suffering from a bad stomach bug – so romantic).

When we felt a little better we walked along the pier and even swam in the ocean. I was fascinated by the train that goes past, right on the sand. Oh and sunsets. You know how I like my sunsets.

 

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Spotted! Elephant seal giving birth, California

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway took us past the elephant seal colony at San Simeon, where hundreds of elephant seals beach themselves for about a month each December/January. On a sunny New Years Day, we visited the beach and wandered up and down the boardwalk observing these interesting creatures.

I spotted:

– A calf giving birth to an elephant seal pup. Wow, what a rare sight. A lady who had been there for an hour pointed out this calf that was about to give birth and was having contractions. Sure enough, as I watched she continued the contractions and then pop! Out came a small, dark baby seal. The gulls went berserk, fighting over the placenta that they gobbled down like a pack of, well seagulls. Then the mother and pup make these sounds to bond with each other.

– The large, unattractive males with their proboscis noses honking and shuffling around the sand. They stay on the beach for about a month, losing half of their body weight in that time.

– Tiny, dark baby seals cuddling up to their mothers and suckling on their teats. The mothers constantly throw sand on themselves, possibly to keep the heat at bay.

– Another fine west coast sunset. Glorious!

– And then a mile down the road a field of zebras. Zebras! In California. Sure why not…

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

On our epic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, we stopped in for a quick visit to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. A film scene from one of my all time favourite movies ‘The Lost Boys’ I was keen to feel the seaside carnival love.

We arrived late in the afternoon and the sun was just setting off the beach, which you can access from the boardwalk. As it was New Years Eve there were quite a few riders hanging around, but it wasn’t too crowded.

I was mainly disappointed with the Boardwalk. It felt a little rundown, a little seedy and shabby. The whole area surrounding the boardwalk also seemed a bit questionable, somewhere I wouldn’t like to be at night. Most of the crowd going on the rides were teenagers, it didn’t have many families like you may find at Santa Monica Pier. Maybe earlier in the day or when it is busier (like summer) it has a nicer feel. As it was a weekday not all of the rides were open either. We only were there about 20 minutes, got some lovely late afternoon light for photographs and then moved on, continuing our drive to Monterey.

Sometimes you can have an experience somewhere that is completely different to others on a different day, or time of year. I was happy that I got my ‘Lost Boy’s’ fix in the end. Out of our drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, it wasn’t one of the highlights (though it’s hard to compete with Carmel-By-The-Sea and the coastline of the Big Sur!)

Death Valley – California

‘Let’s just keep driving till we get to our accommodation’ I said, eyeing the barren wasteland that extended all around… we sure as hell didn’t want to break down or get stranded out here!

We arrived at Stovepipe wells in Death Valley, which is a really unique place to spend the night. Thankfully they had a pool. And a store. But alas, no restaurant. TV Snacks for dinner. Though from memory we didn’t have a TV?

Still, seeing the sun set or rise over the vast lifeless valley is still pretty incredible.